The curious case of India’s fastest 400m runner Anjali Devi

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By
Aug 30, 2019 10:24 AM IST

Anjali Devi clocked 51.53 seconds to win 400m gold at Lucknow on Thursday

Haryana’s Anjali Devi came up with a blistering run in 400m to not just clinch gold at the National Inter State Championships but also clock a superb time of 51.53s to make her eligible for a Doha World Championships berth later next month.

Anjali Devi(HT Photo)
Anjali Devi(HT Photo)

However, the sprinter is unlikely to get the go-ahead from the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) just yet and she might have to run a “reconfirmation” race before the Doha meet.

Reason: The sprinter had reportedly run away from the ground where she was training in Rohtak along with a few other Haryana athletes, when a National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) team had made a surprise visit to collect urine samples in June this year.

Before coming to Lucknow for the National Inter State Championships, she had skipped the state trials in Haryana and the state association sent her entry on the basis of her past performances, said Haryana Athletics Association’s secretary Rajkumar.

“She has been elusive for the last many months and skipped the state trials after claiming to have gone for Railway selection trials,” said Rajkumar, adding, “We sent her entry for the nationals on the basis of her previous performances.”

On Thursday, the 21-year-old Anjali, who has been training on her own for the last few months after being relieved from the national camp following a poor show at the Federation Cup at Patiala in March, clocked the season’s best time by an Indian to finish a solid 7-8 metres ahead of silver medallist Saritaben Gayakwad (52.96s).

The AFI officials are surprised with the improvement since the Federation Cup where she clocked 55.54 in heats and was eliminated. Her timing on Thursday is also more than half-a-second better than Hima Das, who is currently competing in Europe to qualify for the World Championships. Anjali’s timings have seen huge swings too, as she had clocked 51.79s at the National Open in Bhubaneswar in September last year before clocking 55.54s at the Federation Cup in Patiala.

But Anjali sounded confident of making it to the Doha World Championships. “I was sure of winning here (in Lucknow). I am training hard with my personal coach at home. I am on a mission to win a medal at the World Championships and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games,” she said.

“After this performance, we will think about her re-entry to the national camp,” said AFI planning commission chairman, Lalit Bhanot.

Later in the day, Anjali was taken to the dope-control centre for urine sample collection.


    Sharad Deep is a versatile sports journalist, who loves writing on cricket and Olympic sport. He has played cricket at the university level and has been writing for Hindustan Times since 1997.

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